We each hold a unique place for stories within our lives. Stories help us understand the world in which we live. They shape who we are and the way we think about life. Indeed, stories are a part of what it means to be human. They are central to our humanity and play a role in making life worth living. We all tell stories about ourselves and about others, and by listening to the stories of our particular community, we feel at home, like we belong. Thus, our lives and our stories merge with each other’s stories, becoming communally owned and binding us together in a unique fashion. Therefore, they create community and enable us to experience life vicariously, deepening our knowledge and clarifying our life experiences. There is something special about a good story that is hard to resist. Perhaps it is because stories are the way that we make sense of life and its experiences. Indeed, good stories help us grapple with the significant realities of life in a manner that moves us beyond mere facts to the heart of the matter, touching us both intellectually and emotionally, going to the very depth of our being.
The Bible is full of stories. Stories of people who do both good and bad. Messed-up stories of those who do the most dreadful thing and other tales of faith and trust that both amaze us and encourage us on our own journey. The reality is that the Bible tells it as it is; it doesn’t seek to clean up the messiness of the lives of its heroes or its villains. It informs us of both the failures and the successes of its characters. It speaks of the most dreadful sins and the glorious achievements of God’s people. It neither stitches up the villains nor whitewashes its heroes. It tells us real stories about real people without fudging the issues they deal with or the messes they make in dealing with what life throws at them. This makes it an authentic source of stories to guide our lives and help us as we seek to know God and understand ourselves.